Breakdown – book review


Breakdown is an intriguing and captivating book, written by Sarah Mussi.

The year is 2084 and nuclear radiation has poisoned the country. Society has been ripped apart. Starvation and power shortages are two things that are certain in this unstable world. For Melissa and her Nan, survival is only possible if they find enough fuel to cook on and if they safely barricade themselves inside their home by curfew each night.

After dark, feral dogs and violent gangs reign the streets. The have no mercy. So when Melissa falls into the hands of a powerful gang, she doesn’t think she will survive. But then Careem, the leader of the gang, realises she might be more valuable as a ransom victim. Though he never expected his gang to be beguiled by Melissa’s tales of the paradise hidden in Scotland valleys. Apparently only Melissa knows the way there. But Melissa is hiding a secret that could cost her everything, including her life. She has never been to Scotland in her life, let alone the mystical valley there. Will Melissa’s stories be enough to keep her alive so that she can escape – or will they only get her killed?


Although Breakdown wasn’t one of the worst dystopian books I’ve read, I felt let down by it. One of the things that makes a successful dystopian book are solid foundations. The reader needs to feel as though they fully understand this new, post-apocalyptic world so that they can feel fully immersed in the story. That just didn’t happen in this book. It felt like this book was trying too hard to be unique in its setting and the layout of this world, and by doing that, it felt overcomplicated and messy. I would have been happy with a somewhat simple world that I could feel as though I understood. This book just intertwined two worlds; anarchic dystopia and totalitarian dystopia. This book would have felt more planned out or structured if it followed only one of these paths. Because it didn’t, I felt like the things that were going on in this society was pretty vague and I never really understood how this society was not able to function and why it came to be that way.

I felt like one of the reasons I didn’t really get into this book as well as I would have liked to was because of the beginning. From the start of the book, I was confused. There didn’t feel as though there was much stable world-building at the start of this book, which means that I was desperately fishing for answers for the majority of the first half of this book. I felt like I was crawling through the dark, looking for missing pieces of the puzzle. It just wasn’t working for me. If this world had been developed in depth more, I would have been given the time to get to know the characters better and thus would have enjoyed this book more.

One thing that I liked about this book was the inclusion of Greek mythology. I definitely wasn’t expecting that when I picked up this book and I really liked those parts of the book. I felt as though this was the one thing that made this book slightly different to every other dystopian I’ve ever read. I also really enjoyed reading the metaphors in this book and the bigger messages it contains, such as how people cause destruction because of their greed. The messages that this book contained about how people cause death and destruction while trying to pursue wealth or success or a warped happiness.

Melissa was one character that I felt connected to. I loved watching how she used manipulation as a key tool for her survival. It was very interesting to watch how she weaved stories and made everyone believe her to help keep herself alive. I felt as though Melissa really matured throughout the book and it was great to see how she always tried to assert herself, no matter what. Her determination and bravery in these times were really great to read about. In this way, she was a character that I admired. Her journey to find a part of the idealistic freedom that she had heard of was a fascinating one to follow and I really enjoyed getting to know her as the book progressed. Lenny and Tarquin were also two characters that played an essential role in this book. I felt as though I got to know these three characters well throughout the book and I liked seeing their interactions and how certain situations changed the dynamics of the friendships that were formed over the course of the book.

Overall, this book was interesting, although this dystopian world could have been developed more initially. I felt as though this book became more intriguing the further the book progressed, but the ending felt a little rushed. I’ve give Breakdown by Sarah Mussi a score of 7 out of 10. This isn’t the best dystopian I’ve ever read, but it was all right and passed the time.

Thank you to Hot Key Books Australia for providing with this book in exchange for an honest review.

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